BY MIKE MARZOLF
Special to the Tribune
It was another almost for the Barton women’s basketball team. But almost isn’t getting wins.
For the fourth time in five conference losses the Cougars were close and in position to get a win but didn’t. This time Jayhawk Conference leading Garden City was the cause of the heartbreak. Garden pulled away in the final minutes for a 64-58 win over the Cougars at the Barton Gym Wednesday night.
Barton led most of the game. The teams traded the lead in the fourth quarter and when Regan Unruh scored and hit the ensuing the free throw after being fouled on the bucket, Barton had a 56-55 lead with just 3:43 to play.
Barton would score just two more points – in the final seconds.
The loss drops the Cougars to 2-5 in the Jayhawk Conference and 10-8 overall. Garden City is tied for the top spot with Hutchinson at 7-1 while Coffeyville is 6-1.
Much like the win at Neosho County Saturday, Kilee Harris got off to a fast start. A pair of treys and a jumper by the sophomore from Protection allowed the Cougars to jump out to a 12-6 lead. The Cougars held that lead the remainder of the first quarter, leading 20-13 after the opening 10 minutes.
Barton held the lead until a 9-0 run by Garden City to end the opening half, giving the Broncbusters a 32-31 lead at half.
The Cougars regained the lead in the third with a 7-0 run to start the quarter and led by five points at the end of the period, 47-42.
That is when Kavita Akula changed the game. Akula already had five treys through the opening three quarters but was the difference to start the final period. She hit three 3-pointers to single-handedly give Garden a 9-0 to start the final period, taking a 51-47 lead.
Barton would battle back to tie it at 53-all and eventually take the lead on Unruh’s 3-point play coming out of a Barton timeout.
But the Cougars would go cold after that. Barton actually had two chances to increase the 56-55 lead. An offensive foul and turnover on consecutive possessions allowed Garden to take the lead with 2:32 to play on a pair of free throws by Shala Dobbins.
Following a miss jumper in the lane by Unruh, Garden City got a putback bucket by Jaymie Bernbeck to push the lead to 59-56. Jalisa Jones missed a trey that would have tied it for Barton and Garden made them pay. Angel Muir knocked down a jumper giving Garden three straight possessions with points and a 61-56 lead.
Harris missed a three as Barton came up empty on its fifth straight possession. Barton would have one more empty possession before a pair of Harris free throws broke the drought of more than 3 1/2 minutes with just 4.8 seconds to play.
Harris led Barton with 16 points followed by Unruh, Jones and Dominique Baker with 11 each. Harris also had 10 rebounds. Megan Jirak led Barton with 11 boards.
Akula led all scorers with 24 points on those eight 3-pointers. She finished 8-of-11 on 3’s. Dobbins added 16 – six below her 22-point average.
Barton will try to regroup on the road, where the Cougars have won the last two Saturdays in the conference. Barton travels to Dodge City to take on the Conquistadors. Tip is set for 1 p.m. in the Civic Center.